‘Colonel’ James Churchward (1851-1936) was a British engineer and patentholder. However, his most famous invention was ‘the land of Mu‘, an imaginary counterpart of Atlantis, supposedly situated in the Pacific. He wrote six books between 1926 and 1935 to promote this brainchild. The last volume, Books of the Golden Age,was published as recently as 1997, based on material dating back to 1927.
Churchward claimed to have gained his knowledge of Mu from the so-called Naacal Tablets which were translated for him by an Indian priest. Jason Colavito has recently expanded on this matter in a recent blog(i).
Readers might be interested in reading a newspaper report from 1932 in which he claimed the existence of flying machines in ancient India(k). This idea was subsequently adopted by Pauwels & Bergier, copied by Von Däniken and more recently stolen by Hatcher Childress. Colavito has written a valuable piece(l) on the origin and evolution of the story of vimanas in ancient Indian literature and debunking the suggestion that they were some early UFO.
The kindest thing that I can say is that Churchward’s most valuable contribution to literature was A Big Game and Fishing Guide to Northeastern Maine, published in 1898. Two of the many gems offered by Churchward are (1) “Christ’s last words on the cross were in the language of Mu” and (2) “the sun is not a superheated body; it is a cool body but highly magnetic”(b) !!!
Fortunately, geological knowledge today clearly demonstrates that Churchward’s vast island of Mu is as impossible as Donnelly’s Atlantic Atlantis. However, although Churchward also accepted that Atlantis was a mid-Atlantic continent, I am tempted to think that he invented Mu in the Pacific in the hope of emulating Donnelly’s publishing success with Atlantis. A critical review(h) of Churchward’s theories, in French, is available on the Internet.
James Churchward’s younger brother, Albert (1852-1925)(right), was a Masonic writer, who was the author of The Origin and Evolution of the Human Race . It is interesting that this book, now available online(j), makes no reference to Mu or Atlantis.
An extensive paper written by his god-daughter, Joan Griffith, about his life and work is available online(a).
Churchward’s great-grandson, Jack, also has a website(d) dedicated to telling his story. This includes an acceptance(c) that the rank of ‘colonel’ used by his great-grandfather was, on balance, another invention. Jack also admitted(m) the unreliability of James’ translation of the Troano Manuscript, influenced as it was by the earlier seriously flawed attempts by Bishop Diego De Landa (1524-1579), de Bourbourg and LePlongeon.